June 13, 2018 11:12 am
Updated: June 13, 2018 1:08 pm

Bowman, council look into Winnipeg firefighter union head’s salary

Mayor Brian Bowman brought a motion to Executive Policy Committee Wednesday, which aims to renegotiate the salary of Alex Forrest, the head of the firefighters union

Global News File
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The city’s Executive Policy Committee has voted in favour of a motion from Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman aiming to restructure the salary of the head of the Winnipeg firefighters union.

The city said its main focus of the agreement is providing a better deal for Winnipeg taxpayers, who have been on the hook for 60 per cent of union head Alex Forrest’s salary since 2014. Forrest is on full-time leave from his firefighting job.

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Prior to 2014, the city was on the hook for 100 per cent of Forrest’s salary. Currently, his salary is close to $120,000, of which approximately $70,000 is paid by the city.

All other City of Winnipeg unions reimburse the city, in full, for their president’s salary and benefit costs.

READ MORE: City explores taxpayer-funded UFFW salary options

Wednesday’s EPC motion mentions an updated Letter of Understanding in the 2017 agreement, which allows the city and union to work on representing a better deal for taxpayers by recommitting them to an agreement for reimbursement of costs.

Bowman said the new agreement with the UFFW was ratified and supported by council in April 2017. But it needs a signature from the mayor, and he said he won’t sign until council is able to provide direction on the updated provision.

“Scrapped”

When asked about the agreement between the city and firefighters union earlier this year, Bowman said, “I’d like [the deal] scrapped and I’d like it scrapped as soon as possible.”

In a statement to Global News, Forrest said the UFFW is willing to work with the city to find common ground.

READ MORE: Winnipeg mayor calls for more common sense

“We have always said if the city believes they need to reopen any specific clause of the contract due to concerns, we are always open to trying to figure a solution,” Forrest said. “This relationship has resulted in three consecutive negotiated contracts that were mutually beneficial for the citizens of Winnipeg and the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.”

“The city has always paid the fire department president’s salary,” Forrest told Global News in January.  “If I can negotiate that with the city, who is a client, that can save my members union dues. I’m not about to apologize for doing the job of my members.”

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